Trying to plan for every school contingency plan at this point? Ready for at-home learning?
Integrating fitness throughout the day can get the whole family more focused on learning and moving forward together!
It is an interesting and enlightening time to be a parent, to say the least. Your lives have been filled with new rules, mandates, closures, partial openings, and completely restructured schedules and routines. We know you’re wearing more hats than ever before. You are no longer a provider and caregiver but are now expected to fill every role for your children.
Navigating new roles of “teacher” of “student” in at-home learning
Being thrust into the position of “educator” is not a role many parents ever anticipated! There are many challenges that “new teachers”, aka parents, and their children need help to guarantee academic success. Separation of formal education time and family time used to be an easy distinction. We could compartmentalize learning time and differentiate it from home time because:
A. they were in very different locations and
B. they involved different people filling the roles
Now, having been forced to merge our home, work, and education lives, navigating normal habits, work schedules, and educational advancement has become exceedingly difficult.
With continued uncertainty about the impending school year, one of the biggest challenges for many families is navigating at-home learning on an ever-changing scale. Whether you are doing in-person public, private school, virtual learning, homeschooling, or another form of distance learning, likely you feel your plan isn’t even set in stone yet.
Kids have so much energy!
And it’s not just the education portion that parents are struggling with. If you’ve ever worked with children you know that they have seemingly boundless amounts of energy! Before the start of mandatory virtual learning in March, children had routines that included outlets for physical activity and socialization. Scheduled time for recess, physical education, and team sports offered outlets to expend energy. Transitions between classes, and lunch periods allowed for peer growth and socialization to help balance out the day.
We are in uncharted territory for both parents and students. Surviving these necessary but difficult changes is a lot to ask of anyone — let alone introduce the idea of actually thriving in this environment!
Have no fear though! If there’s one thing we can speak to as trainers, it’s helping children expend their energy. Here are some tips to help you navigate their new surroundings and energy levels so they can focus and hopefully achieve a fulfilling and stress-free experience while under your tutelage.
Incorporating fitness into learning:
Fitness at home for young students (5-10 years old):
As you’re likely well aware, the younger they are, the less likely they are to sit still. Often this age group is more likely to use physical exploration, creative connectivity, and choice to fuel their education. Sitting at a desk for 6+ hours and being talked at isn’t going to be an optimal learning style.
Instead, if you’re able to harness their curiosity and physical nature, you can structure some incredible learning & movement opportunities while your home continues to be their classroom.
- Change the SIZE of the lesson: Whether it’s history, geography, or math, any lesson that utilizes illustrations can become something exploratory. Concrete chalk in the driveway is a great way to create a game of exploration. Using their own toys to count works great for mathematics and helps to illustrate those pesky formulas in real-life applications. The limit is your own imagination — think of your entire home & yard as a whiteboard.
- Reward focused time with movement breaks: At times, it’s essential to focus on a singular problem/subject, however that tends to be when young minds begin to wander and energy piles up. To combat this, have your students earn their breaks with physical activity and/or quiz cash-outs! For example, if you’re in the middle of a spelling lesson and their attention begins to wander or their body needs to move, have them “earn their break” by giving 15 perfect air squats & spelling a word in their lesson. This makes every break a bit more productive while expelling some extra energy.
- Schedule recess and challenges: We all know having a routine is ideal for children to know what to expect and for the day to run smoothly. Carry that into your school day and make sure to prioritize movement and games to channel that nonstop energy. For example, you could start the day asking “What’s our main movement today?” and give them a few choices (push-Ups, lunges, sit-ups, plank, wall-sit). Once they choose, set an amount of time or reps, follow the schedule, and let the games begin. For example, if they choose plank, every hour will have a max plank hold and see who gets the most by the end of the day!
These are just a few ideas to help balance at-home learning with the boundless activity needs of the younger kiddos. Can these same principles apply to older kids as well? Absolutely!
Fitness at home for older students (10-18 years old)
Older children and teenagers have lesson plans and curriculum exploring wider ranges. Math expands and specializes in algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics. History becomes a broader encompassing world history, United States history, and so on. The need for movement doesn’t change, but the style in which these soon-to-be adults can add movement to break up the day can change to better serve them.
- Move & learn: It’s not one or the other! Older children have a wider range of subjects to cover, but studying can happen without hours at a desk. For reading and singular focus work such as flashcards, take the material for a walk. Movement helps retention of information, so a stroll around the yard, while they are reviewing, could have huge benefits!
- Animal travel: Much like the scheduled movement for our youngsters, when older kids or teens wake up and start the day, decide on an animal for the day. For example, the animal could be a bear or a seal; and that animal is their means of travel around the house while school is in session. This provides variation in their movement helping promote mobility & flexibility, it also provides a lot of laughs when you have random animals roaming throughout the house! Yes, we know if you have a teenager, there will be some eye-rolls. But if you’re willing to also join in the fun and silliness, you’ll be reaping the benefits as well.
- Fitness flashcards: The use of flashcards for study are perfect for a variety of subjects and are effective for information retention. To add variety, try mixing in some activity! If your student gets a correct answer, they have a shorter movement like an air squat; incorrect answers have longer and less favorable movements, you know, like burpees or thrusters. Let’s say your student loves push-ups but strongly dislikes wall-sits. Every correct answer is 5 quick push-ups but every wrong answer leads to wall-sitting until the next correct answer. Not only are we keeping them moving, engaged, but making a dual-purpose game out of their education.
We are here to help!
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but ideas to keep your favorite students learning, moving, and engaged throughout the day. Physical culture & education complement each other so well that if our kids, students, and athletes have to be restricted to at-home learning due to the current pandemic, ideas like the ones above and many more will help make the most out of their days.
As always, we are here for you. We are happy to consult on specific at-home fitness options that may be perfect for your learner and household. We also encourage you to check out our CrossFit Kids program and watch our Facebook page for more program updates.